Winners announced for YEP’s International Women’s Day competition

YEP competition winner Paige Phelan aged 15 from Abbey Grange Academy Leeds, filmed herself for the competition. Picture by Simon Hulme
YEP competition winner Paige Phelan aged 15 from Abbey Grange Academy Leeds, filmed herself for the competition. Picture by Simon Hulme
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International women’s day proved an inspirational subject for teenage girls in Leeds who took time out to air their views for a YEP competition.

We asked girls aged 11-18 to write an article or make a video on issues they feel are important in honour of the annual day, which is celebrated across the globe on March 8.

And the standard was so high we have chosen two winners this year - one a written entry and one a video.

Paige Phelan, 15, of Headingley, sent in a video of herself reciting poetry on the topic of anxiety - an issue close to her heart.

The Abbey Grange Academy pupil said she suffers from anxiety and began writing about it and making films to help spread the word.

“Sometimes when I’m thinking about anxiety, I’ll read over something I’ve written or watch a video for reassurance. It’s an everyday hobby I do.”

One of the YEP competition winners: Ellen Wardman 17 at Prince Henry's Grammar School in Otley.  Picture Tony Johnson.

One of the YEP competition winners: Ellen Wardman 17 at Prince Henry's Grammar School in Otley. Picture Tony Johnson.

She added: “I wanted to spread the message about anxiety and mental health in general.”

To watch Paige’s video, search ‘Paigethepoetess’ on You Tube - her winning entry is called ‘Hello Anxiety’.

Our second winner is Ellen Wardman, 17, a sixth form pupil at Prince Henry’s Grammar School in Otley.

She wrote emphatically about the issue of feminism and the importance of women having a choice over how they want to live their lives.

She told the YEP: “I’m passionate about the topic because I think there are some issues in modern feminism that need to be acknowledged and talked about.”

She added: “It’s the kind of thing I talk with my friends about.”

Ellen’s winning entry: ‘In defence of being girly’

In recent years, third-wave feminism has focused on promoting the new and alternative; the young women of today are encouraged to distance themselves from the ancient practice of housewifery and all things ladylike and instead adopt an equalising androgyny and self-made lifestyle. Now, I am certainly not here to criticise this phenomenon (I myself am not exactly the pretty-in-pink, proportions-of-a-barbie-doll type, and I don’t know many other teenage girls who would describe themselves as such) but I do believe there is a rather large flaw in this ideology.

The rejection of old-fashioned femininity goes against one of the deepest of core values of feminism: choice. The right to choose a medical treatment was what the pro-choice movement fought for in 1973 during the Roe v. Wade case on abortion. The right to choose a representative in Parliament was what the suffragettes fought for in the late 19th and early 20th century. Surely the right to choose dresses and child-rearing is as feminist as the right to choose trousers and independence from the nuclear family. If we are to teach our daughters that they don’t have to fit a cookie-cutter shape of what it means to be a woman, then we at least owe them the right to see every possible path they can take.

Gareth Harris of RSM Restructuring Advisory LLP

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